Delta Air Lines will require all new U.S. employees to receive immunizations from COVID-19– announced the carrier on Friday, calling the vaccines “safe, effective and necessary for the future of the airline and our world.”
The Atlanta-based airline has noted progress in achieving herd immunity among its employees, with 60% of its approximately 74,000 employees already vaccinated, the company said. To help maintain this trajectory, Delta will oblige everyone who joins the company to get vaccinated if they are not eligible to host, the company said in the statement. Politics starts on Monday.
“About two in 10 Americans have been infected with COVID-19, and one in 1,000 Americans have died from the virus. Vaccines are not only extremely effective in preventing COVID-19 illnesses and symptoms, but are almost 100 percent effective in preventing hospitalization and death, ”Delta said.
Delta “will not implement a company-wide requirement to vaccinate current employees,” a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch by email.
While it is the first major US carrier to take the move, at least one other airline appears to be supporting Delta in the near future.
United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby made it clear in January that his airline would likely join others if they started demanding employee vaccinations, calling it “the right thing to do” for his airline and other companies.
“We need other people to demonstrate leadership, especially in the health sector,” Kirby told a municipal official. “So if others agree and want to start introducing mandatory vaccines, you should probably expect United to be among the first wave of companies to do so.”
United is still considering introducing a vaccine for its employees, but no decision has been made, a spokesman told CBS MoneyWatch on Friday in an email. A company spokesman added that the company has opened vaccination sites, including at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, to provide its employees with access to the vaccine.
Other US airlines indicated that they had no intention of requiring their workers to be vaccinated.
“We strongly encourage team members to get vaccinated and offer incentives to those who do. But we do not plan to require the vaccine if it is not required to enter certain countries, ”an American Airlines spokesman said in an email.
American offered employees who would be vaccinated an extra day off in 2022 and a $ 50 gift card.
“Nothing new on our part has been reported and no changes in the process,” a Southwest Airlines spokesman replied when asked if the carrier could require vaccinations for its employees.
Alaska Airlines, meanwhile, is not considering requiring its employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We continue to emphasize the importance of vaccination in the fight against the spread of COVID 19. However, this is a personal choice and we do not plan to make it a condition of recruitment,” a spokesman said in an email.
JetBlue and Spirit Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Delta’s decision was made as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says fully vaccinated Americans can stop wearing face masks in most cases. But a federal rule, introduced in January, still requires passengers and crews on airlines and trains to cover their faces.
Delta, which operates a vaccination center at its Aviation Museum in Atlanta, says the new policy is designed to protect other employees and passengers as travel bounces back from last year’s lows during the worst period of the pandemic.
Air travel has grown steadily since hitting a low in April 2020, with a recovery gaining momentum in recent weeks. On Thursday, the Transportation Security Administration checked 1.74 million people. It was the largest number of people at US airports since March 2020, although it was still 33% below the same day in 2019.
– The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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